The pairing of these two indie giants looks great on paper, as both groups are enjoying a wave of critical acclaim for their latest studio efforts. But on the second night of a two-night stand in the

The pairing of these two indie giants looks great on paper, as both groups are enjoying a wave of critical acclaim for their latest studio efforts. But on the second night of a two-night stand in the squeaky clean Nokia Theatre, you couldn't help but feel that this might have been a mismatch. Indeed, the New Pornographers have established themselves to be more than just mere openers, but tonight was rather tough on A.C. Newman and his cronies.

What will always be a question -- and tonight was no exception -- at a New Porn show is whether Neko Case and Dan Bejar will be on hand. Alas, neither is in tow for this tour, as both have solo releases currently on shelves. And as often as the New Pornographers are labeled as a "super group," their live show makes it much more apparent that it's really Newman's band.

Unfortunately, from the get-go the Porns had problems. For their first few songs, it seemed like the mix wasn't up to par; Newman's vocals were muddled, and hardly audible during the "Star Bodies" opener. Promptly following was a bass-heavy version of "Use It" that further drowned out the high pitches Newman tends to rely on in his choruses. Once everybody kicked in on "July Jones," only then did they start to sound more like the pop band that they are on record.

As expected, they mostly culled material from last year's near-perfect Twin Cinema. Unfortunately, they weren't resonating well with the crowd. The only solid reaction was when the band riffed on "Eye of the Tiger" for a few minutes. Only then, did the cheers go up. Then again, Newman and company are probably feeling a lukewarm response everywhere, due to the rather obsessive nature that surrounds Belle & Sebastian fans.

This became apparent as the band took the stage. It wasn't that the New Porns were turning in a bad performance per se; it's just that the Scots were clearly on everyone's mind. B&S opened with "Expectations," a classic folk song from its debut, "Tigermilk," and played it to perfection.

Recent years have seen B&S move from a band rooted in folk to a band that takes on a rather funky kind pop -- not only in arrangements, but also in stage presence. "The Blues Are Still Blue," "White Collar Boy" and "Sukie in the Graveyard" found Stuart Murdoch bopping around stage alongside Stevie Jackson, who would often times compliment Murdoch's enthusiasm with solid blues-based riffs that blended perfectly with the more disco-ish sounds.

Other highlights included an appropriate "Piazza, New York Catcher," "I'm a Cuckoo" and a particularly upbeat "Electronic Renaissance." As the night progressed, it became quite evident that B&S has perfected its live show -- something that has been criticized in the past. The group encored with "Judy and the Dream of Horses" followed by "You're Just a Baby," two old favorites that seemed to have new life breathed into them: faster and passionate, while remaining playful.

Here is the New Pornographers' set list:

"Star Bodies"
"Use It"
"The Laws Have Changed"
"Bleeding Heart Show"
"The Jessica Numbers"
"July Jones"
"Mass Romantic"
"Testament to Youth in Verse"
"Twin Cinema"
"The Bones of an Idol"
"The Body Says No"
"Jackie, Dressed in Cobras"
"Eye of the Tiger"
"Divine Right"
"Sing Me Spanish Techno"
"Letter From an Occupant"

Here is Belle & Sebastian's set list:

"Expectations"
"Another Sunny Day"
"Women's Realm"
"Sukie in the Graveyard"
"To Be Myself Completely"
"Electronic Renaissance"
"The Boy Done Wrong Again"
"The Blues Are Still Blue"
"Piazza, New York Catcher"
"Funny Little Frog"
"Like Dylan in the Movies"
"Your Covers Blown"
"Act of the Apostle Part One"
"I'm a Cuckoo"
"The Wrong Girl"
"White Collar Boy"
"Get Away From Here, I'm Dying"
"Judy and the Dream of Horses"
"You're Just a Baby"

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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